Woman stomach pain
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Fight Belly Cramps

They’re common with a Crohn’s flare -- especially right after you eat. To get a handle on this painful symptom:

  • Eat small portions of food every 3 to 4 hours.
  • Cut back on nuts, seeds, corn, and popcorn, which cause cramping in some people with Crohn’s.
  • Ask your doctor about any meds that can help. He might call them antispasmodics or antidiarrheals. You’ll take them before meals.
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restroom sign
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Be Prepared for a Blowout

Crohn’s doesn’t have a schedule, so it’s smart to have an emergency kit. Stash these must-haves in your backpack, purse, locker, desk drawer, or car.

  • Toilet paper
  • Wet wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Clean underwear
  • Clean shorts or pants
  • Large-sized freezer bags for dirty clothes

Better yet, keep emergency kits in a few places. And make sure you know where the bathrooms are.

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holding pregnancy test
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Plan for a Healthy Baby

If your disease isn’t active, chances are you can get pregnant as easily as other women your age. You may have more trouble if you’ve had major corrective surgery, such as a colectomy with J-pouch. The best time to conceive is when you’ve been in remission for at least 3 to 6 months and are off steroids. Most women with IBD (which includes Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis) can have healthy pregnancies, but your doctor will keep close track of you.

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birth control pills
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Keep Pregnancy Risks Down

Use protection during flares. If you conceive, the disease is more likely to stay active during your pregnancy. You may also be more likely to miscarry or have a low birth weight baby. Also important: Wannabe parents should stay off methotrexate 3 to 6 months before trying to conceive, and while pregnant or nursing. The drug can cause serious harm to a fetus.

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Woman jogging
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Exercise: It’s Good for You

Not only is a good workout a major mood booster, some types may help with your Crohn’s symptoms. Try these: 

  • Swimming: Pain relief 
  • Strength training: Weight gain, better body composition
  • Aerobics: Better sleep
  • Aerobics and strength training: Less fatigue, stronger bones

Always check with your doctor before you start a new fitness plan.  

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supermarket shopping
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Beat Belly Bloat

Certain foods can cause it or make it worse. Some common culprits -- and fixes:

  • Insoluble fiber, found in fruit and veggie skin. Cook or peel your produce.
  • Lactose, the sugar found in milk. If dairy bothers you, your doctor can test for lactose intolerance.
  • Gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Keep a food diary. If gluten is a trigger, your doctor may want to test you for celiac disease.

 

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Bottle of pills
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Manage Your Side Effects

You’ll probably take medication long-term, and these drugs can cause side effects. If one makes you feel sick, ask your doctor to switch you to another. You can also ask about over-the-counter meds to ease headache and nausea. Keep in touch with your doctor, and follow her instructions if you’re being monitored for more serious side effects.

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couple feet
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Talk About Sex Challenges

Having sex -- or even talking about it -- can be uncomfortable. Disease, drugs, and surgery can affect your ability to perform. Crohn’s can also take a toll on your body image, which may keep you out of the mood in the first place. There are many solutions. Discuss your worries with a doctor you’re comfortable talking to. It doesn’t have to be the one who treats your disease. 

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couple relaxing
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Find Sex Solutions

From medications to support groups, there are plenty of ways to address your concerns:

  • Impotence: Ask your doctor about drugs or devices that can help you get -- and keep -- an erection.
  • Low desire: Rest and exercise; use music or a sexy movie to set the mood.
  • Ostomy concerns: Empty the pouch before sex; camouflage it with special underwear.
  • Embarrassment: Don’t hide your disease; talking freely about it can help.
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Patient doctor visit
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Be Upfront About Fistulas

These ulcers eat away the tissue between two body parts, like your bowels and your skin, or between your rectum and vagina. They can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, but it’s important to tell your doctor if you think you have one. He can give you antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs to ease the inflammation. Surgery may be an option if drugs don’t help.

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man taking meds
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Get Ahead of Your Flares

Medications can make a big difference in your symptoms. You may reach remission that lasts for months or even years. Still, you might have a flare from time to time. Common triggers include stress, smoking, and not taking your drugs like you should. Or you might simply need to tweak the type or dose of your meds. Talk to your doctor about any big changes in symptoms.

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sanitary napkin in handbag
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Prep for Period Problems

Irregular periods are common when you have Crohn’s. That’s because inflammation can interfere with hormones that help keep your cycle regular. Having good control of your Crohn’s can improve things, but don’t forget to stash a tampon or pad in your purse just in case. It’s normal for your Crohn’s symptoms to get worse the week before your period.  You don’t usually need to change your treatment.

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man at airport
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Travel Wisely

You’ve booked your vacation and planned your itinerary. You’re almost ready for a great trip -- so don’t let Crohn’s or a travel mishap get in your way.

  • Ask your doctor for the name of a doctor where you’re traveling. 
  • Carry your meds with you on the plane -- don’t pack them in a checked bag.
  • Bring enough to last the whole trip.
  • Get copies of all prescriptions before you go.

Bring an emergency blowout kit!

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/22/2018 Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on October 22, 2018

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

Thinkstock Photos

 

SOURCES:

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America: “Diet and IBD,” “Emotional Factors Q&A,” “Fact Sheet: “Pregnancy,” “Diet, Nutrition, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease,” “Managing Flares and Other IBD Symptoms,” “The Intimate Relationship of Sex and IBD,” “Traveling With IBD,” “Understanding IBD Medications and Side Effects,” “What is Crohn’s Disease?” “Women & IBD.”

Just Like Me! Teens With IBD: “Life With Crohn’s & UC.”

Perez, C. Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis, December 2009. 

PsychCentral: “Tips for Building Self-Esteem.”

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on October 22, 2018

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.